The Senate has assured that it will reconsider the diaspora voting bill this week.
The Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti), made this known during a virtual dialogue organized by the Engage Diaspora Foundation in collaboration with the Directorate of Diaspora and International Affairs of his office.
The theme of the dialogue was: “A fundamental step towards achieving the right to vote for the diaspora.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 9th Senate in March 2022 rejected the Diaspora Voting Bill.
The bill sought to amend the 1999 Constitution to allow Nigerians living outside the country to participate in the electoral process and be voted.
“Nigerian citizens in the diaspora have shown enormous interest in participating in the electoral process; They make considerable contributions to the economy through huge financial remittances to the country.
“Diaspora voting is consistent with global best practices,” he said.
In his presentation, Mr. Bamidele, who was the main host and keynote speaker at the event, assured Nigerians in Diaspora that the 10th Senate would make more efforts to pass the bill this time.
He said: “We will do our best to ensure that this time we fulfill your wish in this regard.
“When talking about the diaspora vote, it is a right; If someone grants you that right, it is not as if they are granting you any favors. It’s your right.
“The essence of this fight is simply to ensure that the right is recognized in our constitution because the constitution is the foundation on which everything else rests.
“The constitution is the operating manual for both the government and the governed in our country. It is a right that must be recognized by our legislation as enshrined in the constitution.
“Whatever I’m doing with you is not new. “I’m trying to take advantage of the effort, the genuine effort, that people have made in the past and are still making.”
The legislator also said that the bill was already on the Senate floor, “and exactly two Tuesdays ago we had a first reading of the bill on diaspora voting.
“It passed the first reading and was scheduled for the second.
“I can definitely assure you as Senate leader that we will be considering the second reading of the bill sometime this week,” he said.
According to him, once this is done, the bill will be referred to the Constitution Review Committee because the committee is chaired by the vice president of the Senate and the vice president is the leader of the Senate.
“We are part of your movement in this regard and you can rest assured: even anyone who tries to convince me of the need to pass this bill will have to convert.
“I very much agree with you in this effort because I see this fight as a generational fight.
“It is not just about the constitution recognizing their right to vote in the diaspora, their children and grandchildren and the generations that will come after us.
“It is also about ensuring greater inclusivity in our process. “We cannot simply be so interested in the benefits coming from the Nigerian diaspora community and at the same time deny what is supposed to be their own constitutional right,” he said.